Students need exercise so they can perform well in school. A growing body of research on how the brain works supports this finding, and teachers have known it intuitively for much longer. With daily recess and PE classes, The Howard School has been committed to movement throughout its history. But through the Spark Program, students can get the brain benefits of exercise over the course of the whole day.

Teachers have noticed that kids do better after recess. Exercise makes them more available for learning —it calms them down while it helps them focus.

Spark was introduced after a team of Howard School teachers attendedLearning & the Brain, a national conference held several times a year that brings together neuroscientists and educators to explore how the brain works and its impact on classroom performance. John Ratey, Harvard Medical School professor and author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, inspired PE instructor Mike Hamilton and several other teachers to launch a pilot Spark exercise program at Howard that would integrate movement throughout the day. With Spark as the centerpiece, The Howard School now provides several opportunities for students to move beyond the traditional hour for recess and PE.